The Employee Benefits Security Administration has come out with 40 questions and answers to help employers and benefits advisors apply new Form 5500 benefit plan cost reporting rules.

Under the new rules, which take effect for Form 5500 reports filed for plan years starting on or after Jan. 1, 2009, employers are supposed to give details about how much compensation they pay benefit plan vendors, such as insurers, mutual fund companies, and agents and brokers.

The U.S. Labor Department, EBSA’s parent department, will be giving the vendors some relief, officials write in the guidance.

Plan administrators need not report vendors for failing to provide fee and compensation information, as long as the vendors provide written notices stating that they were unable to provide the compensation information in time for the 2009 plan year, officials write.

If a recordkeeper enters into an alliance with an insurer that sells a plan a group variable annuity, the employer need not report amounts paid by the insurer to the recordkeeper as Form 5500 Schedule C indirect compensation, as long as the payment was recorded on Schedule A, officials write.

Elsewhere, officials note that employers can report insurance contract wrap fees as Schedule C indirect compensation if the wrap fees are charged against the plan’s investment or are transaction-based fees.

If an insurer sells a “net rate” investment product that pays a crediting rate that is net of the insurer’s expenses and costs, that “would not be a basis for excluding those expenses as reportable compensation for Schedule C purposes,” officials write.